Chinese rights activist spoke at Purdue as part of Giant Leaps Series

Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese civil rights activist and self-taught lawyer, shared his insights about the negative impact of artificial intelligence technologies on human rights during a Giant Leaps Series event Sept. 17 at Purdue University.

Guangcheng presented his views on “how the Chinese Communist Party has kidnapped china and is disrupting the world.” Sponsored by the colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts, this is one of many events celebrating Purdue’s sesquicentennial, 150 Years of Giant Leaps. This yearlong celebration is highlighting Purdue’s remarkable history of giant leaps, while focusing on what giant leaps Purdue can take to address the world’s problems.

Working in rural communities in China, Guangcheng advocated for the rights of the poor, disabled and persecuted. Blind from infancy and known as the “barefoot lawyer.” Guangcheng’s memoir, “The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China,” was released by Henry Holt Publishers in 2015 and has since been translated into eight languages worldwide.

His work drew the ire of the authorities, leading to over seven years of harassment including
repeated house arrests, secret detention and over four years in prison. On April 20, 2012, he made a dramatic escape from 20 months of brutal house arrest, catching the attention of international media.
The American embassy in Beijing secured his temporary safety before high-level diplomatic negotiations enabled his exodus to the United States.

Since beginning his advocacy work, Guangcheng has been the recipient of numerous awards including Time Magazine 100 Most Influential List in 2006, The Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2007, The Lantos Human Rights Prize in 2012, the UK Parliament’s Westminster Award in 2013, and the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy Courage Award in 2014.

Guangcheng is a frequent media commentator as well as guest speaker at conferences and events around the world. He has established a not-for-profit foundation to further human rights in China, and serves as visiting fellow at the Catholic University of America, Distinguished Senior Fellow in Human Rights at the Witherspoon Institute, and Senior Distinguished Advisor to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

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